FAIRLAND - Ryan Markes proved just how valuable he was to the Afton Eagles.
The senior quarterback was involved in 15 of the Eagles last 22 plays and accounted for two clutch touchdowns in a 27-12 victory over Fairland here Friday night.
"He took the team on his shoulders in the second half when we needed it," Afton head coach Zach Gardner said. "They were taking care of T.J. (Korb) on the counter, so Ryan just put the team on his shoulders. It always helps to have some blocking up front, but he did a good job at the quarterback position."
Fairland had pulled to within two points (14-12) when quarterback Yancey Lett scored on a 3-yard run with 39.4 seconds left in the third quarter.
Lett hooked up with Josh Boyd on the game-tying conversion, but the play was wiped out by a holding penalty.
On the re-try from 18 yards out, Lett was sacked.
Afton took the ensuing kickoff and drove 63 yards in 14 plays to get an insurance touchdown, a 1-yard keeper by Markes.
He had been stopped for no gain on second down, then Fairland was flagged for half-the-distance for being offsides, putting the ball just barely short of the goalline.
Markes then burrowed into the pile ahead of him, punching the ball over the plane.
Of the 14 plays in the drive, Markes ran the ball eight times and completed one pass to Dusty Henry.
Tony Shortt returned the ensuing kickoff 69 yards to the Afton 19-yard line.
Tyler Mackey dropped Lett for a 6-yard loss, a pass was incomplete, then Markes intercepted Lett at the Afton 4.
Markes gobbled up 13 on the first play, which had a 15-yard late hit penalty tacked on.
The Eagles overcame a holding penalty on the drive, which was capped when Markes teamed with a wide-open Shawn Free for a back-breaking 47-yard touchdown.
The PAT kick by Magnum Mustain created the final margin.
“We played them well,” Fairland head coach Bill Pascoe said. “They ran the quarterback well outside. For the most part, we played pretty well. We had a couple of plays where we gave too much. We missed one or two blocks, too.
“It's all about blocking and tackling, and they did it just a little better.”
The win was the seventh straight for the Eagles in the rivalry and gives them a 48-35-2 advantage.
It also kept Afton in the District A-8 playoff picture.
Commerce continues to set the pace with a 6-0 district mark, followed by Salina and Foyil at 5-1. The Eagles and Ketchum are tied for fourth at 4-2.
“We've still got next week, the next week and the next week,” Gardner said. “I feel better than I did after Salina, that's for sure.”
The Eagles host Foyil Friday while Fairland travels to Salina.
“We played well,” Pascoe said. “I told the kids before the game that sometime we'd have adversity. I didn't know it was going to be the first play of the game. I lost one of the most productive backs I have (Tyler Spencer) on the first play of the game.”
Spencer went out with a leg injury on the opening kickoff. He tried to re-enter the game a couple of plays later, but was hurt again and didn't return.
“It was tough - it hurt us defensively and hurt us offensively,” Pascoe said.
The first 20 points in the game came during the opening 12 minutes.
Afton struck first, getting a 9-yard run from Korb. The conversion attempt failed, leaving the Eagles with a 6-0 edge with just 3:10 gone.
Fairland countered with a 3-yard run by Lett at the 3:52 mark.
The Owls had been forced to punt after netting only 1 yard on a eight-play series. However, Brennon Fuser fumbled and Josh Boyd recovered at the Afton 34.
Eight plays and four penalties later, Lett scored. Korb blocked the extra point try by Jesse Drosche, leaving the game tied at 6-6.
On the reset following the fumbled punt, Fairland benefitted from a pair of pass interference penalties on the Eagles, accounting for 18 yards, and a facemask that netted another 8.
Afton went back on top for good when Markes teamed with Fuser on an 11-yard TD strike as the horn sounded, capping a eight-play, 53-yard drive on the ensuing kickoff.
Markes added the conversion run, bumping the score to 14-6.
The Owls mounted a drive on its ensuing possession, going from its 31 to the Afton 36 only to run out of downs. Lett was nailed for a 5-yard loss by Mackey and Weston Andrews.
AHS had two other scoring chances in the half. It ran out of downs at the Fairland 40 when Free was stopped a yard short, then Markes was intercepted near the goalline with just over 2 minutes left in the half.
Afton generated 397 yards in total offense, with 260 of that coming on the ground.
Korb finished with 118 yards on 22 carries while Markes added 99 yards on 19 totes.
Markes also completed 10 of 15 passes for 137 yards. Korb and Free each had three receptions.
The Owls managed only 15 yards on 27 rushing attempts. Short was their leader with 20 yards.
Lett completed 8 of 17 passes for 132 yards.
Shortt and Boyd each had three catches.
The game in figures
Afton 27, Fairland 12
Afton 14 0 0 13 - 27
Fairland 6 0 6 0 - 12
Afton - Korb 9 run (run failed), 8:50
Fairland - Lett 3 run (kick blocked), 3:53
Afton - Fuser 11 pass from Markes (Markes run), 0:00
Fairland - Lett 3 run (run failed), 0:39.4
Afton - Markes 1 run (Mustain kick), 7:01
Afton - Free 47 pass from Markes (Mustain kick), 2:37
First downs 19 11
Rushes-yards 51-260 27-15
Passing yards 137 132
Return yards 101 7
Comp-Att-Int 10-15-1 8-17-2
Punts-avg. 0-0 4-42.8
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 10-71 8-56
RUSHING - Afton, Korb 22-118, Markes 19-99, Free 10-43. Fairland, Shortt 10-20, Jones 4-7, Boyd 2-5, Lett 11-(-17).
PASSING - Afton, Markes 10-15-1-137. Fairland, Lett 8-17-2-132.
RECEIVING - Afton, Free 3-63, Korb 3-37, Fuser 2-15, Weaver 1-15, Henry 1-7. Fairland, Boyd 3-86, Shortt 3-31, Drosche 2-15.